Good morning. It’s Courtenay and I’m filling in for Dion for the next few days.
Today's edition is 927 words, or about a 3-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Off-price retailers are cashing in on consumers who are increasingly demanding more bargains.
Why it matters: The consumer is emboldened by a steady economy with a low jobless rate and spiking wages. But even with more money in their pockets, shoppers are increasingly turning to retailers that prioritize deals.
One example: TJX Companies — the parent of discount chains TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshalls — is drawing more customers into its stores now than in the past. Sales are growing, too.
Other retailers that traditionally haven't been known for deals are struggling to draw in shoppers. To fix that, they're following discounters' lead.
Yes, but: This strategy isn't fool-proof. "...[M]uch of the discounting is occurring at the weaker retailers which consumers are not inspired to visit,” Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData Retail, tells WSJ.
Of note: Analysts say off-price retailers are banking on lower-income shoppers' renewed economic confidence, who are likely to visit their stores.
By the numbers: The report, which analyzed aggregated debit and credit card data of Bank of America cardholders, found that spending growth among consumers who make less than $50,000 a year jumped 5% year-over-year.
Per Reuters: U.S.-China trade war escalation fears plus "dour forecasts from retailers Home Depot and Kohl's fueled worries about consumer spending" weighed on stocks on Tuesday.
P.S. ... TJX was the best performing stock in the S&P 500 consumer discretionary sector.
Axios' Erica Pandey and Kim Hart write: While robots upend blue-collar factory work and trucking in the middle of the country, AI and machine learning are poised to take over white-collar jobs in superstar coastal cities.
Why it matters: No one is immune to the shockwave of automation in the workplace.
What's happening: A new analysis released Wednesday by Brookings overlaid the keywords in AI-related patents with job descriptions to get a more detailed understanding of which jobs are most likely to be affected by AI — and where they are.
The big picture: Much of the research assessing the workforce impact of these new technologies — robotics, AI and machine learning — lumps them all together under the bucket of automation.
"There are a lot of high-skilled tasks that will be affected by machine learning, and that's going to be very disruptive," says Erik Brynjolfsson, director of MIT's Initiative on the Digital Economy.
Purchases of variable annuities hit a three-year high last quarter, according to new sales figures released by the Secure Retirement Institute.
Why it matters, per Axios Business Managing Editor Jennifer Kingson: Variable annuities, meant to generate income in retirement, fluctuate depending on the performance of various markets. The fact that consumers are buying them is another indicator of economic confidence.
More than a year after launching, Fidelity's digital currency arm can offer bitcoin storage and trading services to investors and institutional clients based in New York.
Bonus ... per Politico's Zachary Warmbrodt: The Fed is "exploring whether it makes sense to issue its own digital currency that could be used by households and businesses," per a letter chair Jerome Powell sent to members of Congress on Wednesday.
Russell Investments, the Seattle-based asset manager, is on the auction block per the Financial Times.
Why it matters: The interest to sell "follows several bruising years for the [fund management] industry, with profits at some of the biggest fund houses squeezed by the rise of passive investing."
The big picture: Fund management has seen a surge of M&A activity in the last few years.